For the first time since 1993, and the first time in Chris Paul's Hall of Fame career, he and the Suns will be heading to the NBA Finals to face the winner of the Bucks vs Hawks.
How'd the Suns get to this point? A lot of basketball minds mixed with a bit of luck.
Phoenix deserves all the credit for getting to this point. They made it through a Chris Paul COVID stint and a Devin Booker injured nose during these playoffs. Monty Williams (one of the best humans in the NBA) has led this team to where they have been trying to for almost 30 years...and they're not done yet. James Jones (known to most as the guy who rode Lebron's coattail to a bunch of Finals and NBA Championships) has done a brilliant job constructing this roster. Chris Paul (long criticized for his lack of playoff success) finally makes his first NBA Finals appearance after a brilliant series-clinching performance against the Clippers, going for 41 points and 8 assists to seal the deal.
Paul, who is 36 years-old, is one of the greatest point guards and basketball minds of all-time. For him to lead this team full of young players, savvy veterans, and cast-offs is one of the best stories we have seen in a long time. Read this story by Zach Kram about just how perfect this playoff run has been for CP3.
These 3 men are brilliant minds of the basketball world. Having one on the court, one on the sideline, and one in the GM's chair is an ideal set up. They have surrounded themselves with very talented young players and veterans that know their role. The most amazing part is that everyone seems to enjoy their time with this team, even the last guy on the bench. Culture leads to winning, and this organization has created one of the best cultures in the NBA
This has all been said without mentioning Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton and all the other Suns players who have worked for this chance. Booker is one of the best scorers we have in the NBA, able to score at all 3 levels, and the only active player to have scored 70 points in a game. Ayton is a young big man who thrives in his role as a screen-setter, lob-catcher, and offensive rebounder. Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges, and Cam Johnson have brought toughness, defense, and 3-point shooting to surround Paul and Booker. Cameron Payne has one of the craziest career arcs ever, and here he is as a backup point guard and important piece of a Finals team as just a 26-year old. Check out his story by Clutch Points.
Even with all of these accomplishments and great players, Phoenix has been given a stroke of luck this postseason. They beat the Lakers in Round 1, who were without Anthony Davis most of the series because of injury. They beat the Nuggets in Round 2, who were without Jamal Murray because of an ACL tear. Last night they finished off the Clippers, who were without Kawhi Leonard due to a knee injury. Not to discount anything from this impressive run from the Suns, maybe this was just the luck that they needed.
If you look ahead at their possible Finals matchups, Atlanta's star Trae Young is missing Game 5 due to injury, as is Milwaukee's star Giannis Antetokoumpo. We don't know their status for the future, but they will at least not be 100% when their team reaches the Finals.
As for that Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 tonight, it will be interesting to see how the Bucks bounce back. No Trae and no Giannis forces others to step into roles they might not be comfortable with. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday need to be aggressive for the Bucks, same goes for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Heurter for the Hawks.
Right now the line is Bucks -4.5, so Vegas is expecting a big bounce back after a 22-point loss in Game 4.
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